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02/10/2009

Octuplets. Still. Again.

Nadya Suleman has named the doctor responsible for the conception of her octuplets and, she says, her other children.  (Her mother disputes this, saying that a previous doctor had promised not to perform further procedures on Suleman, requiring her to go elsewhere for treatment.)  Suleman says he's Michael Kamrava of West Coast IVF, whose bio and photo were available as recently as yesterday, but hmmm, have now been removed.

Worst.  Fertility doctor.  Ever.

[O]f the 61 procedures Kamrava conducted in 2006 — the most recent data available — only five resulted in pregnancies and only two of those resulted in births. One of those births was Suleman’s twins.

“These are the worst numbers I’ve ever seen. This is absurdly low,” said Dr. Mark Surrey, another fertility specialist in Beverly Hills.

[...]  His history of poor results comes despite Kamrava placing more embryos per procedure than all but 10 of the nation’s 426 fertility clinics for patients under 35. In 2006, he averaged 3.5 embryos per in vitro fertilization treatment, compared with the national average of 2.3.

A quick search of the boards at IVFC shows that patients were skeptical of Kamrava back in 2006, when he was promoting an embryo transfer technique with "guaranteed implantation."  "It pains me to think how many people flocked to him with the hopes that his treatment was the magical answer," said one poster.  "My RE called this guy a downright charlatan and said he had the worst reputation in the community."

...


In other octuplet news, Suleman has taken an NBC camera crew into the NICU to film her children.  When I heard she planned to do this, I was disgusted.  First of all, they're not performing seals clapping their flippers for a herring, they're sick babies in a hospital.  Second, isn't the current standard of care for preemies to minimize disruption?  I sputtered about it all weekend, and then suddenly I worried if maybe I wasn't being too harsh.  I thought, Wait a minute.  Didn't I post pictures of Charlie here?  Didn't I share his NICU experience?

And then I thought, Wait another minute.  Big difference between a handful of posts on TypePad and a tête-à-tête with Ann Curry.  Many a distinction to be made, one of the starkest being that I had no interest in any kind of payoff, aside from the support of my friends inside the computer.  (Oh, I know the Today show says Suleman isn't being paid for her appearances.  But I find it hard to believe that she was provided no compensation whatsoever.)  Relieved, I returned to the cushioned comfort of my moral high ground and my incoherent sputtering.

But then this morning found me wavering again.  Everything about this situation is crazy, Suleman and her mother included.  Suleman's actions are not those of a rational adult.  (A single example among the thousands she's provided in the last couple of weeks: Suleman said she was confident she'd be able to provide for her children after she finishes school.  I wonder when she thinks she'll have time to continue her studies.  And if she seriously intends to support her family, I wonder why she didn't finish school first, before this latest pregnancy.)  So anytime I've tried to square her actions based on my own personal standards, I've had to step back and remind myself that she is not a normal infertile.

So that softens my attitude a bit, my belief that she's not operating within the same constraints of reality as, you know, most of the human race.  And when I can remember that, I can be a little less appalled. 

A little.  I'm still sickened by the thought of a herd of reporters crashing through a NICU, which is as close to a sacred place as any I've ever known.  But while I might abhor her motives — or what I imagine them to be — for putting her newest children in the spotlight, it seems possible that the result will eventually be better care, whether it be in the form of more money or more human assistance, than her fourteen children might otherwise have gotten.  So I still think inviting a crew into the NICU is disgusting, but I grudgingly acknowledge that some good could theoretically come of it...right?

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